Club Soda, Montreal, QC, September 20

Photo: Julie Michaud

BY Evan LePagePublished Sep 25, 2012

About 15 minutes from where Claire Boucher went to school, electro starlet Grimes taught a course in musical entertainment to a sold-out audience at Club Soda.

Lesson one: set the mood. Boucher's wild demeanour behind her keyboards, mixers, sequencers and effects units from the first note of the first song inspired the audience to respond in a similar way. Wall to wall, fans were possessed by the music, gyrating, pirouetting and moshing along.

Lesson two: give them something they've never seen. While you get the feeling that, not unlike a snowflake, no two Grimes concerts are the same, Boucher made sure that the audience experienced something unique and memorable in its audacity. Atop the list was the presence of both opening acts on stage, not for collaborative performances but as back-up dancers. Both Elite Gymnastics and MYTHS spent the entire hour-long Grimes set on stage, as enthralled as the audience and equally possessed. With an additional trio of restless back-up dancers, two of whom slowly stripped down to their underwear, Boucher ensured the memory of her concert was burned onto retinas, in addition to ear drums.

Final lesson: make the music the focus. Simply put, the fans got what they came for. The crowd exploded as the opening bar of "Oblivion" reverberated through the amps and their chests, while the echoed vocals and piano-backed chorus of "Genesis" reminded the audience that the song is truly designed for a live setting. The openly shy Grimes spoke only a few words, and mid-song banter didn't exist. But the crowd benefitted from this, as each song fed the next, with elongated end notes stretched into the bass of another track. Boucher realized that her performance did not have to be seamless, as missed notes or delayed effects meant little when the show itself had no seams. She wasted no time.

While her youth and eclectic nature may deceive some into thinking what she does with two trays of hi-tech machines isn't exceptionally difficult, the self-taught Grimes was skilled, flowing and knew exactly how to please.

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